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June 2004

Ohio Recycling Means Business; Economic Benefits Spiral

Ohio is a leader in the U.S. when it comes to recycling. A report released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) indicates that Ohio’s economy benefits from a $30 billion recycling industry.

These benefits are found right here in Ohio as local community recycling programs and private industries work together to make recycling the third largest industry in the state. Every step in the recycling process - collection, remanufacturing and purchasing recycled products - adds value to recovered materials.

The process of turning collected materials into new products creates a chain of economic activity that results in business expansions, jobs and other economic growth in Ohio’s communities.

Ohio’s recycling industry, like other businesses, provides a number of economic benefits, including creating jobs, making investments and paying taxes. Industries such as public and private recycling collections, processing, conversion and manufacturing operations directly impact Ohio’s economy. Other businesses such as machinery manufacturers, accounting firms, transporters and engineering firms support recycling industries directly and indirectly.

Recycling industries account for: 169,000 jobs; $6 billion in annual wages; $30 billion in annual sales. Ohio’s recycling industry includes those activities that are most essential to the continued recycling of materials and reuse products.

The “upstream” side of the recycling industry is the supply side. Recycling collections take place in residential areas, commercial establishments and industrial settings. Recycled materials are sorted, baled and sold to processors and manufacturing facilities.

The “downstream” side, or the demand side, processes the materials by cleaning, flaking, grinding or pelletizing. These raw materials are then incorporated into “first-stage” manufacturing where materials are produced into items such as a roll of paper, sheet of plastic, glass bottle or metal billet. The products are often converted into finished products such as metal and plastic car parts, copier paper, envelopes and food packaging containers. It is at this stage where recycled materials successfully compete directly against their respective primary, or virgin equivalents.

The direct impact accounts for: 3,200 business establishments; 98,300 jobs; $ 3.6 billion in annual wages; $22.5 billion in annual sales.

The environmental benefits of aluminum recycling are enormous. Fortunately, so are the economic benefits. The capital costs for making aluminum from recycled material is far lower than the capital investment needed to derive aluminum from its natural source - bauxite ore. It takes 12 to 20 times more energy to make aluminum from raw bauxite than to make it from recycled aluminum. Because most electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, that energy savings translates into further conservation of natural resources and a significant reduction in pollution.

Aluminum is an “energy bank” - the original input can be recovered every time the product is recycled, and aluminum can be recycled infinitely. The use of recycled metal in any aluminum product results in an energy savings of up to 95 percent over the use of primary metal. Transportation, packaging, including beverage cans, and building construction are the top markets for the aluminum industry. Transportation, the largest market for aluminum in the U.S., is used to make aerospace and aircraft components, truck and car components, and about 90 percent of that material is recycled. The use of aluminum in car parts also drives other conservation benefits: Lightweight aluminum body panels and engines, for instance, are used to improve the fuel efficiency of some cars.

Manufacturers in this state use much of the aluminum Ohioans recycle. Most of Ohio’s aluminum beverage cans head first to primary aluminum smelters, plants that make aluminum mostly from raw bauxite ore. There, recycled and virgin aluminum are blended into sheets that are sold to can makers. Other post-consumer and industrial scrap aluminum, from metal filings to old lawn chairs and engine blocks, go to secondary aluminum smelters.

Ohio’s Economic Benefits
There are 200 aluminum recycling smelters, refining mills, foundries and producers in Ohio that account for: 13,400 jobs; $450 million in annual wages; $2.5 billion in annual revenues or receipts.

Ohio’s Environmental Benefits
Approximately 451,000 tons of aluminum are annually recycled and processed in Ohio benefiting the environment by: saving 16.8 million barrels of oil valued at $537.6 million and reducing 1.9 billion tons of greenhouse gases saving 84 billion BTUs of energy.

The manufacturing of glass containers for a wide variety of product lines includes food, beverages, toiletries, perfume, cosmetics and medicine. The glass container is a superior package due to its clarity, inertness and recyclability. Glass can be recycled indefinitely without loss of quality, and using recycled glass reduces energy consumption, the need for raw materials, and wear and tear on machinery. Ensuring a steady supply of recycled glass, or cullet, has become crucial to the industry’s success.

Cullet, which is broken or used glass, is one of the four principal ingredients in each glass container. The other three are sand, limestone and soda ash. When cullet is added to the glass-making process, the batch is less corrosive to the melting furnace and does not melt at as high a temperature as when only raw materials are used. Thus, using recycled glass reduces the energy used in the furnaces as well as prolongs furnace life. In addition, cullet usage reduces emissions into the atmosphere.

The glass container industry is the largest market for recycled glass. Currently, glass containers made in America contain an average of about 35 percent recycled material. But for glass too contaminated to be recycled as containers, there are several other markets. The second largest market of recycled glass is fiberglass insulation. Other applications include using mixed cullet to make “glassphalt” for road surfaces, backfill and stormwater drainage systems, sandblasting abrasive, reflective paint, ceramic tiles, costume jewelry, and as a frictionator to help light matches and detonate ammunition.

Ohio’s Economic Benefits
In Ohio, there are 10 glass recycling container manufacturers and product producers. Annually, this industry accounts for: 800 jobs; $18 million in annual wages; $121 million in annual revenues or receipts.

Ohio’s Environmental Benefits
Annually, approximately 60,000 tons of glass are recycled and processed. The environmental benefits are: saving 54,000 barrels of oil valued at $ 1.7 million and 6 million tons of greenhouse gases reduced 162 billion BTUs of energy saved.

Paper and Paperboard
The paper industry continues to depend heavily on recovered fiber as a raw material. Corrugated cardboard recovery leads paper’s overall recycling rate with old newspapers ranking second. Old newspapers and other recycled newsprint often end up in the mixed paper bin, but there is a strong market in Ohio for newsprint by itself. Helped by several paper mills around the state, Ohio newspapers contain an average of more than 40 percent recycled paper. Mixed paper and paperboard are recycled into new packaging products, as well as paper towel and tissues, construction paper, cellulose insulation and bedding for farm animals.

New technology and improved markets have made paper recycling much easier over the years. But the quality of paper fibers degrades or shortens with repeated recycling. Therefore, recycled paper is typically mixed with virgin fiber for most paper products. Short fiber does, however, make cardboard boxes that bend or stretch before breaking open.

Transportation costs are significant with a heavy material like recycled paper, and paper mills don’t like reaching more than 300 miles away for feedstock. Fortunately, several paper mills in northeastern Ohio and a few in the southwestern quadrant of the state are able to serve all of Ohio, as well as parts of Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky.

Ohio’s Economic Benefits
In Ohio, there are 40 paper recycling mills, pulpers and product manufacturers. These facilities annually account for: 7,600 jobs; $280 million in annual wages and $2 billion in annual revenues or receipts.

Ohio’s Environmental Benefits
Two million tons of paper is recycled and processed in Ohio annually. The environmental benefits equate to: saving 6.3 million barrels of oil valued at $ 201 million; 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases reduced; and 18.6 billion BTUs of energy saved.

Plastics, synthetic polymers made from oil and natural gas, were introduced less than 100 years ago and quickly became the world’s most used material. Plastics today play an important part in cutting-edge technologies such as the space program, bulletproof vests and prosthetic limbs, as well as in everyday products such as beverage containers, medical devices and automobiles. Plastic’s versatility allows it to be used in everything from car parts to doll parts, from soft drink bottles to the refrigerators they are stored in.

Plastics also help to conserve energy. Vinyl siding and windows help cut energy consumption and lower heating and cooling bills. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that use of plastic foam insulation in homes and buildings each year will ultimately save close to 60 million barrels of oil versus other kinds of insulation. The same principles apply in appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners. Plastic parts and insulation have helped to improve energy efficiency by 30 to 50 percent since the early 1970s.

The recycling industry has done well in developing technologies to allow some plastics to be easily recycled, such as milk and detergent bottles (high density polyethylene or HDPE) and soda and water bottles (polyethylene terephthalate or PET). However, more and more plastic packaging is being made thinner and stronger by mixing different kinds of plastics together. Mixing various plastics causes serious problems with recycling contamination and the ability to separate the plastics well enough to recycle them again.

Ohio’s Economic Benefits
Over 260 industries convert and process recycled plastic in Ohio. Annually, these industries account for: 14,000 jobs; $373 million in annual wages; and $2.5 billion in annual revenues or sales.

Ohio’s Environmental Benefits
Approximately 281,000 tons of recycled plastic are converted and processed into feedstock annually. This equates to: saving 3 million barrels of oil valued at $96 million; 112.5 million tons of greenhouse gases reduced; 6.3 million BTUs of energy saved.

It is likely that every steel container or product made in North America is made with recycled material. The North American steel industry has been recycling steel scrap for over 150 years. The two modern-day processes used for making steel both require the use of scrap steel. The basic oxygen furnace method requires a minimum of 25 percent recycled steel, and is used to make products such as food cans, car bodies, appliances, steel framing and steel drums. The Electric Arc Furnace method is used to make items such as structural beams, bridge spans, steel plates and rebar using 100 percent recycled steel. Steel scrap is also used as a raw material by foundries to make castings and molds for industrial users.

Two hundred years after Ohio’s first blast furnace was constructed near Youngstown, the state’s steel industry is in trouble. Competition with low-priced imported steel and other factors have led to bankruptcies and mergers throughout the domestic steel industry. Still, Ohio remains a leading center of domestic steel production, and much of the steel you recycle is processed at steel mills in central and northeastern Ohio. There are also smaller steel recycling facilities throughout the state.

Local community recycling programs almost certainly accept steel cans and probably offer collection dates or drop-off sites for steel appliances. But all steel is recyclable, either through community recycling programs or local scrap metal dealers. Other common items that can be recycled include old steel bottle tops and jar lids, stainless steel flatware, steel toys, aerosol cans, paint cans and oil filters.

Ohio’s Economic Benefits
In Ohio, nearly 150 steel recycling furnaces, mills and producers contribute to Ohio’s economy. Annually, they account for: 40,000 jobs; $2 billion in annual wages; and $12 billion in annual revenues or receipts.

Ohio’s Environmental Benefits
Ohio annually recycles and processes approximately 10,131,000 tons of steel. The environmental benefits of using recycled steel are: Saving 27.3 million barrels of oil valued at $873.6 million; 5.1 billion tons of greenhouse gases; reduced 207.7 billion BTUs of energy saved.

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